Sharpening Card Scrapers


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In this episode Joseph shows how to sharpen two kinds of card scraper, a normal straight sided one and one with a curved end. Scrapers are great tools for working with difficult grain or smoothing curved shapes that are hard to plane.


  1. woodworker435 on 31 May 2013 at 5:48 pm


    i’ve been waiting for this topic for a bit. THANKS so much!

  2. JerryH on 31 May 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Thanks Joseph, your Legacy school as a new teacher 😉 great stuff !!

    • JerryH on 31 May 2013 at 6:11 pm

      Sorry missed the ‘h’ should have read ‘Has a new teacher’

    • Guy A Lynch on 25 January 2020 at 3:20 am

      Burr: the residual result of creating an edge.
      Hook: the desired scraper working shape.

  3. Greg Merritt on 31 May 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks you so much for this one….really needed it. Its great to finally see you on the other side of the camera Joseph. Well done!

  4. JONATHAN WARREN on 31 May 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Great video! I suggest using the term “arris” for the positive burr created because it is an edge that is being created deliberately, just like the arris on a board 🙂 And because it is a sexy word which needs a wider application! 🙂

  5. Matt Wilcox on 31 May 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Thanks Joseph, very helpful 🙂

  6. STEVE MASSIE on 31 May 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Hi Joseph …….. Great video and glad to see you are working with your Father. You Guy’s make a great Team.


  7. Matt Hess on 31 May 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Excellent! I don’t have a special burnisher, but I’ve seen someone simply use the barrel an old screw driver to accomplish the same task. Do you think that would work, or do I need to specifically search for a piece of hardened steel rod?

    • Brett aka Pheasantww on 31 May 2013 at 7:20 pm

      Matt, You really need something “harder” than a screwdriver. I have seen the edge of a chisel used successfully.

    • Michael Petre on 1 June 2013 at 6:24 am


      the barrel of an old screw driver may work with older steel scrapers but you should really go for something harder if you use modern steel scrapers. The ticketers/burnishers are quite cheap usually.

      • Jørgen Ellekjær on 29 November 2017 at 12:05 pm

        I have put a hook on a card scraper from Bacho using a screwdriver as a burnisher. The card scraper cut really well afterwards.

        Hence I do not think something harder is really needed.

        However try it out, you cannot damage anything. The worst that can happen is that the screwdriver could not do the job and the scraper has to be edge filed again.

    • Bryan Webber on 17 September 2015 at 5:27 pm

      I bought a burnisher from woodcraft for around 25 US dollars. You can find them online for around the same. It was a wood river brand, but others vary in price. It just needs to be hard enough.

    • Steve Chiswell on 4 March 2017 at 9:16 pm

      Take apart any scrap printer and there are hardened steel rods for the print head to move on. Ideal source material for burnishers. Also the tolerances on these rods are very high as you would expect.

  8. ericthecleric on 31 May 2013 at 6:47 pm

    I see the similarity in speaking styles, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Great job!

  9. Ken on 31 May 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Well done Joseph, great job buddy

  10. Serhiy D'yachyshyn on 31 May 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Thanks a lot Joseph.Great video))

  11. Patrick Soran on 31 May 2013 at 7:58 pm

    Nice, thanks

  12. Praki Prakash on 31 May 2013 at 8:01 pm

    I’ve never gotten such good results from my scrapers as you show. I should try the exact procedure you use and see if it gets any better. Using a real burnisher instead of a screwdriver/chisel may be the answer to my problem.

    I am curious about this step where you burnish (at 90 degrees) and then flatten it on the bench and follow by burnishing it fully. What is the intermediate flattening doing?

    BTW, nice presentation and great new teacher!


  13. Ted Charlton on 31 May 2013 at 8:41 pm

    Great I needed to know the proper way to sharpen a scraper. I was able to sharpen but that looks better.
    Just a pity you did not use the file in a safe way. I was allways taught as an enginnearing apprentice many years ago that you should never use a file without a proper handle. If you had ever seen a file tang sticking into someones hand,I have not nice, I do not think you would either.
    Not being clever just passing on my own knowledge and hopefully it may save someone having a nasty accident.
    Best Regards Ted.

    • Daniel Atkeson on 31 December 2019 at 9:49 pm

      You can safely use files without handles. The difference between safe and dangerous lies in where you hole them and the amount of pressure you are using. I’ve seen people stab themselves and take all efforts to not do it to myself, hence holding them properly to negate the risk. Don’t hold the file by the tang while exerting force and you no longer have any risk of injuring yourself on the tang. The other option is to round off the tang edges so they can’t penetrate flesh.

  14. Jeff Porterfield on 31 May 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Welcome, Joseph. Very nice job, indeed. I look forward to you contributions as well as your father’s.

  15. Eddy Flynn on 1 June 2013 at 12:58 am

    welcome to the glamorous side of woodworking / video presenting Joseph well done you have you dads calm and concise manner

  16. John Poutier on 1 June 2013 at 3:23 am

    Very well done Joseph. Your are as natural as your Dad.

  17. Robert Sacilowski on 1 June 2013 at 3:34 am

    GREAT job Joe, please do additional video’s and join your dad for a project. Love seeing both of you teach.
    All the best- bob sacilowski

  18. Mark on 1 June 2013 at 4:34 am

    Overall a nice demonstration. I noted that you added an additional step over what is usually seen. Typically one goes from stoning to burnishing the flat sides then turning the hook on the actual edge. You have added an edge burnishing step before the flat work. Your results are good. I’ll have to try that. Thanks for this.

  19. skodger1nine80 on 1 June 2013 at 6:03 am

    Thank you Joseph, I am sure I’ll now be able to get a better edge on my curved scraper having seen where i’ve been going wrong !! You did a good job of explaining it all.

  20. Florian on 1 June 2013 at 10:35 am

    Welcome Josesph and thanks for the video! I’ve succesfully sharpened and used scrapers since I watched the master sharpening series but I only recently realized that the square scraper has four cutting edges along its length and not just one on either side. It was an early stage misunderstanding that made me believe that one side can only be burnished over one edge. The mushroom-mystery.

  21. Jon Flaschner on 1 June 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Great job, Joseph! Your demonstration was well done and clearly explained. Hope to see you do more videos in the future.

  22. Ken on 1 June 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I really enjoyed this, so this is not meant as a criticism, but seeing 90% of the work was done with the Stanley No 80, I thought you would have shown how to sharpen that one-first. No offence meant Joseph. 🙂

    • Ken on 1 June 2013 at 5:40 pm

      90% of the work on the coffee table top, I should have said. 😉

  23. David Gill on 1 June 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Nice job Joseph, Hope we will be seeing lots more of your videos
    I was wondering if the same technique applied to the blade in the Stanley No 80

  24. Kevin Bowkett on 1 June 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Thanks, excellent video on a topic that I’ve been waiting to see.

  25. MickA on 2 June 2013 at 10:27 am

    Many thanks, Joseph. A very lucid and thorough teaching video.

  26. Mark Armstrong on 2 June 2013 at 2:10 pm

    Good to see you Joseph enjoyed this very much

  27. david o'sullivan on 2 June 2013 at 4:58 pm

    i call it creating a ” lip”

  28. Brett aka Pheasantww on 2 June 2013 at 9:45 pm

    As a followup to what Joseph alluded to in this outstanding video, it is important to look at the edge of your scraper. If it is new, one of the edges will be “turned” due to the stamping process of cutting the cards from a roll of metal.

    You need to file or grind past this roll over before you can successfully put a good burr on that edge.

  29. nick on 3 June 2013 at 9:42 pm

    One of the very first things I was taught as an apprentice toolmaker in the early 70s was “Never use a file without a handle on the tang”. This always amused me. After all, who would be daft enough to do that?!!!

    • Michael Sterland on 22 May 2017 at 2:16 am

      I saw that too & it made me cringe, & having seen the results of someone’s grip slipping on a file during my engineering training in the RAF.

  30. Steve Follis on 4 June 2013 at 12:42 am

    Nice job Joseph, these videos are a great resource. Keep them coming, and hope to see you in more of them!

  31. Anonymous on 4 June 2013 at 8:28 am

    Thanks – I really needed that lesson!

  32. bavakian on 4 June 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Anyone know what brand of burnisher Joseph is using in the video?

    • Ken on 4 June 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Brandon, Joseph was using Paul’s burnisher and I think Paul had it made for him.

      • bavakian on 4 June 2013 at 11:23 pm

        Thanks Ken. I like the look of it and naturally wanted to know if it could be purchased somewhere.

  33. bertd on 5 June 2013 at 8:33 am

    I’m having trouble getting it sharp although I’ve followed all steps Joseph showed.
    Could it be due to the fact that I’m using a wrong file? It’s a cheap file from a set I bought at Aldi years ago.
    I try to make the burr with a triangular burnisher but it only seems to scrape the iron off the card scraper and not putting one one it. I used one of the three flat sides to do this.
    Both card scraper and burnisher are made by 2 cherries.

    Anyone can help?

  34. Ken on 5 June 2013 at 11:38 am

    Bert, sounds like the trouble is with your file and burnisher. I single cut mill file, and a round burnisher would work much better buddy. Sorry I cant be of more help

  35. Joseph Sellers on 5 June 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Thanks to everyone for the positive comments. I will only make very occasional appearances but I enjoyed making the video. There are more sharpening ones in the pipeline.

    @bertd, the problem could be one of a few things. 1, make sure that the file is leaving a totally smooth surface. If not try filing at a different angle or try a different file. 2, although I don’t like the triangular burnisher it should work fine. It too should be totally smooth. However, if the surface of the file is not totally smooth the burnisher won’t help.

    One thing you might try is making sure that the burnisher and the scraper edge are lubricated with oil before burnishing.

  36. smfield on 2 July 2013 at 6:06 pm

    I’ve always called it a hook or cutting hook. Try filing the opposite way your doing it, ie with the file in the vise and the card scraper in your hand and flat to the vise top. I always use cutting oil to float anyway the swarf and heat. You definetly get better results.

  37. smfield on 2 July 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Also when burnishing use a saw vise. It holds stronger then a regular vise and you don’t have to worry about compressing the hook after flipping the scraper to address the other-side.

  38. smfield on 9 July 2013 at 3:12 am

    Since we’re calling it a hook and not a bur, instead of calling the steel a burnisher we’ll call it a hooker.

  39. smfield on 11 July 2013 at 4:04 pm

    If your having trouble drawing the hook, do not try to do it while holding the card in hand or on wood. Try it on a hard stone plate.

  40. bobeaston on 13 September 2013 at 7:41 pm

    THANKS Joseph.
    Your directions are excellent!

    Today, I needed a scraper. The ONLY thing I had from what you use in the video was a single cut file. No pre-cut scraper stock, no burnisher.

    For the scraper “card.” I had the remainder of an old Disston saw that I cut down to make a frame saw. I cut a piece from the remains and went to work with the file and later Arkansas stones.

    For burnishing, I looked through all the various bits of “rod shaped things” and located an old (1880s?) marking knife, the kind with a broad spade on one end and a point on the other. It’s about as hard as many drill bits and seemed a good candidate. Taping up the cutting edge made it comfortable enough to use.

    Worked a treat! I now have a great new scraper that works very well. THANKS for the very fine instruction.

  41. Sandy on 24 November 2013 at 12:07 am

    I have seen a scraper used in many applications by your father and other sources but I never knew how to sharpen one and of course had never owned or used one. So today I ran out and bought a inexpensive set of cabinet makers scrapers. Then headed home to look on information on how to sharpen. Finding your video was a welcome surprise. I followed your technique to the letter and got a really good bur, or hook as some call it and I am anxious now to get one of my projects far enough along to actually use it… Great job teaching this method of sharpening. I did however have one question; I used soap on my diamond plate for lubricant and I was wondering if you didn’t use any on purpose or if it really matters on the diamond stones?

  42. DeniseG on 24 November 2013 at 3:58 am

    Hi Joseph, Like Sandy, you’ve inspired me to try a card scraper. That and I hate sand paper, so now I know that scraper skills are attainable and will reduce the need for sand paper. Great video by the way.

  43. Cory on 21 December 2013 at 7:35 pm

    You explain very well, Joseph. I think that you have your Father’s knack for teaching. Perhaps you could call the “burr” the “skive”, as that is exactly what it does to the wood without confusing it with a shave. Thank you for your work.

  44. hallamjeff on 1 January 2014 at 2:47 am

    The difference between this video and all the others I’ve seen…. this demo was done with an obvious fluency from someone who has done it many times. Many others are slow, almost hesitant in filing and burnishing. Well done, I can’t wait to sharpen my full set.

    • Cory on 5 January 2014 at 6:26 am


      This is the real reason that I started following Paul and company. From the first youtube video, I was impressed with the utter familiarity Paul has with his tools, materials, and methods. I have seen it every day in the “trades” here in the states with my colleagues. While I would not necessarily call other popular “experts” frauds, I certainly think that they are in some sense masquerading as more than researchers. Paul is the genuine article, and it is obvious that Joseph is also. I’m glad you noticed the ring of truth too.

  45. richard hurrell on 7 January 2014 at 8:15 am

    I could not believe what I was watching. Was he trying to sharpen the scraper, or play it.?
    A nice square edge,(single cut file),ONCE across with the burnisher,about 5 degrees, job done.
    All the best.

  46. Franco on 3 April 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Great video. Thanks.

  47. FrankM on 2 May 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you for this video. I finally was able to sharpen both a rectangular card scraper and a curved one. Next I will tackle one with various curves. Great job. The oil on the burnisher made a huge difference as did the single cut file.

  48. Matt McGrane on 15 July 2014 at 7:09 pm

    To sharpen card scrapers, I have been using a kitchen knife sharpener (approx 9″ long, 3/8″ diameter rod with a handle). But while I’m certain that tool is very hard, its surface is not smooth like the burnisher shown in the video. Does anybody know whether it is out of the question to use this type of knife sharpener for burnishing a card scraper?

    • Lee Turner on 12 April 2016 at 6:28 am

      I thought about taking an old round file, grinding it smooth and using that. It should be hard enough, just don’t let it get too hot when grinding it.

  49. Ronniej1951 on 19 October 2014 at 6:24 pm


    Your son asked that if we knew of another name to call the refined “burr” in order to distingiuish it from the unrefined “burr” when sharpening scrapers, to send it on to him. Because you have so generously shared your wealth of knowledge, skill and experience with us, I offer the “Welsh Tine”. The tine is a blade used in farming to plow pristine fallowed ground in preparation for planting crops. And it also honors the truly fabulous Welshman, Paul Sellers. That’s my candidate from across the pond.

    Ronnie J. Berthelot

  50. Sandy on 29 May 2015 at 7:36 pm

    It’s always good to go back and watch these instructional videos. I always find something I missed or for whatever reason omitted from the process. Thanks Joseph for the very well put together video.

  51. wadepatton on 18 August 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I’ve done a good bit of scraping, started using the technique on my last longrifle build. Curly Maple begs for a scraper (especially when shaped to be handled). But I didn’t really know what I was doing. I used broken glass, metal cut square, metal burred, thick metal, thin metal. My burrs were short-lived because I didn’t know what I was doing. Thanks for this video (and the other on the cabinet scraper-where I actually learned the “trick” first) such that “self-taught” folks like me can learn the proper ways of creating this edge and using this tool. Also I got a kick out of the repeated strokes necessary (as expect that is your least favourite part), as it’s quite similar to stropping a razor.

  52. timakeeling on 4 September 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you for your time and efforts in making this video and extending this fantastic collection of tutorials. I am going to give this a try soon… I picked up a set of scrapers, but hadn’t tried them out yet because I wasn’t sure how to sharpen them.

  53. cowderysean on 15 December 2015 at 1:09 am

    I have seen so many variations on this and have tried several with some success, however this is by far the best results have see from my scraper. Great job and thank you for sharing the knowledge.

  54. Ray Atkinson on 1 February 2016 at 1:41 am

    nice job… you don’t have to put water on the stones?

    • ehisey on 14 February 2016 at 5:55 am

      Diamond Stones can be used Wet or Dry. In fact most “water” stones work just fine dry. John Juranitch talks about the myth and fact of water/oil use on hones in the book The Razor Edge Book of Sharpen.

  55. Sam Jackson on 4 February 2017 at 7:03 am

    Better late than never – good job Joseph, nicely done, Tried it and enjoyed the results. Thank you – both

  56. puremadness on 20 February 2017 at 9:53 am

    Very good instructions Joseph.

    I could never get decent results with my scraper, I tried your method and it worked like a charm!!


    Ofer Elimeleh

  57. Harvey Kimsey on 10 July 2017 at 7:36 pm

    Is it possible some card scrapers are harder steel than others? I have a Sandvik scrapper and find it very difficult to put a burr on the edges of it.

  58. Barry B on 26 September 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Thanks for the great technique! Now that I know what I’m doing, I’ve had great success making card scrapers from a drywall tapers knife, the spring steel cuts with tin snips, is flexible, cheap and fairly easy to get, it worked very nicely finishing maple cabinet doors. As a burnisher, a piece of drill rod works quite well (not sure if its O1 or W1).



    • Barry B on 27 September 2017 at 1:57 am

      Correction: a ‘hardened’ piece of drill rod works well, as does a 10mm allen key

  59. michael on 2 December 2018 at 9:01 am

    Hi thanks for showing how this is done. Maybe call it the cutting burr.

  60. martin schulman on 7 April 2019 at 12:59 am

    Great video. This kid is a great teacher. Good going.

  61. Dave Perks on 17 May 2019 at 9:02 pm

    Hi Joseph
    Thank you SO much for this video, I have had a card scraper for years and love it but always struggled to sharpen it. I have watched a variety of videos over time on how to do this and they never quite worked for me.
    Yours is perfect! I ran through the steps in about ten minutes and mine now takes beautiful wafer thin shavings.
    Great work, tell your dad he better watch out, there’s a new kid on the block 🙂

  62. Arvind S on 2 September 2019 at 12:52 pm

    One question about the stones – what grit are they and can they be replaced by equivalent sand paper from 3M?



  63. richard dorn on 14 June 2020 at 11:40 pm

    Great instruction, thanks! I took a woodworking class last month, bought a scraper at the school because I’d never heard/used one before. I now can get thin shavings versus ‘dust’ after a previous attempts at sharpening.

  64. Stephen Borowski on 22 November 2020 at 5:16 pm

    I’m still learning the basics of woodworking, and would much appreciate some guidance on the subject of a card scraper’s highest and best applications. I grasp its use for spot repair of tearout after planing. I likewise grasp its use on curved surfaces and in places too small for a bench or block plane. But is it ever a better alternative to a plane in applications when a plane could still theoretically be used? Some possible examples: final smoothing after a surface has been leveled, bypassing the No. 4 bench plane altogether. Smoothing end grain without using my low-angle block plane.

    Also, should a card scraper be used as a final step to obtain even better results on a surface that has already been decently smooth-planed? When properly sharpened and used, can it be expected to leave a finish-ready surface that does not require sanding?

    With thanks and kind regards to all.

    • Izzy Berger on 22 December 2020 at 9:22 am

      Hi Stephen,

      Paul says:
      Generally, the card scraper deals with areas that cannot be planed because the grain is configured differently within the fibres. The planed surface is generally superior to scraped. So, it’s rarely ever an either or but all.

      The scraped and planed surface can be too smooth to take a fully adhered surface with many finishes which can and do then peel away. Sanding gives ‘tooth’ to the surface for better adhesion whether paint or varnish.


  65. Pantelis Panteli on 9 April 2021 at 11:40 pm

    Excellent video Joseph. This has filled in many gaps I had in my knowledge of how to sharpen these tools.

    Much appreciated.


  66. Warren Parker on 14 May 2021 at 4:37 pm

    For a burnisher, I went to a garage that serviced diesel engines and got a large valve. The stem works very well as a burnisher and it was free.

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